WikiLeaks founder seeks asylum at Ecuador embassy

first_img“His concern was that once he arrived in Sweden he would be held in custody and would not have a chance to seek sanctuary again,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.The person claimed that Assange had explained his reasons for seeking sanctuary to those who put up bail, but Jemima Khan, a celebrity journalist who supports Assange, said she was caught off guard by the news.“I had expected him to face the allegations,” she said in a message posted to Twitter. “I am as surprised as anyone by this.”It wasn’t immediately clear whether the escape to the Ecuadorean Embassy would invalidate Assange’s strict bail conditions, or whether the 200,000 pounds (roughly $315,000) put up by his supporters would be forfeited.British officials declined to say whether Assange had skipped bail or whether they were now seeking his arrest.Assange will be free from U.K. authorities so long as he remains at the Ecuadorean Embassy, but it’s unclear how he could hope to get from the mission, based in London’s wealthy Knightsbridge neighborhood, to Ecuador itself.The embassy’s buzzer rang unanswered Tuesday, although several times an unidentified figure peeked out from behind the curtain to look at reporters clustered around the building’s entrance. Ecuador has made friendly noises about Assange in the past. In the November 2010, at the height of the media storm over WikiLeaks’ disclosures, its government appeared to offer him sanctuary, and on Assange’s newly-launched television talk show _ which interviewed Correa via videolink earlier this year _ the pair swapped jokes and messages of encouragement.It was during the interview that Assange received an offer of asylum, according to a woman who was present during the shows and familiar with the offer. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media.It was not immediately clear if the offer came directly from the president himself, although at one point Correa saluted WikiLeaks and told Assange to take courage.“Welcome to the club of those who are persecuted!” said Correa, whose government has been assailed by human rights and press freedom activists for using Ecuador’s criminal libel law in sympathetic courts against journalists from the country’s biggest newspaper, El Universo.Assange and his allies had been in discussions over a possible attempt to seek sanctuary in Ecuador since last weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family But legal experts said Assange’s flight to the Ecuadorean embassy was a desperate one.U.K. extradition specialist Karen Todner said she couldn’t make sense of the move, while Michael Scharf, based at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio, said he didn’t believe Assange could be given asylum status.“I think they are going to end up asking him to leave the premises,” said Scharf.Ecuador’s mission in London said in a statement that Assange would “remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean government,” while his application was considered. Britain’s foreign ministry said it was working with Ecuadorean authorities to resolve the situation, but gave few other details.Aside from Assange’s brief statement, WikiLeaks did not elaborate on its leader’s plans. Nearly a dozen calls, texts and emails seeking further comment from WikiLeaks and its staff weren’t returned.Patino, speaking at a news conference in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, gave the fullest account of Assange’s reasoning, saying he had personally written to Correa to ask for asylum.Assange, who is Australian, had argued that “the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees before any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen.” Patino said. That may be a reference to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who last month said that her country could not protect Assange from other countries’ justice systems. Associated PressLONDON (AP) – WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange has made a run for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, seeking asylum in a long shot move that, if successful, would place him in a small, friendly South American country rather than in Sweden facing questioning about alleged sex crimes.Tuesday’s unexpected caper has added a new and bizarre twist to Assange’s increasingly desperate bid to avoid extradition to Scandinavia. Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the leftist government of President Rafael Correa _ an administration often at odds with Washington _ was weighing the request, although he did not indicate when a decision might be made. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health too Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system At one point two men emerged from the building; neither addressed the assembled media, but one bore a folio entitled “Diplomatic Law.”Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer representing the two Swedish women with claims against Assange, told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter late Tuesday that Assange’s latest move was a delaying tactic.“It’s tragic for the two clients that I represent,” he was quoted as saying. “I can’t imagine that this will lead anywhere.”___Solano reported from Quito, Ecuador. Associated Press writers Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, Paisley Dodds in London, and Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Assange said in a brief statement that he was grateful “to the Ecuadorean ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application.”Assange’s legal options in the U.K. had almost completely run out. Less than a week ago Britain’s Supreme Court re-endorsed its decision to allow the 40-year-old’s extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over sex crimes allegations. The accusations _ which stem from Assange’s trip to the country in mid-2010 _ have cast a cloud over his online organization’s spectacular leaks of U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence material.Ecuador _ where less than one in three people have access to the Web _ may seem an unlikely place for the former computer hacker to seek refuge, but in many ways it’s an obvious choice.“It’s one of the few countries that has given a great opening to Assange’s entire cause,” said Grace Jaramillo, an international relations professor at Ecuador’s FLACSO university.“Correa sees Assange as a critic of the status quo,” he said. “He has been challenging the United States and Correa likes that.”Assange argues that extradition to Sweden is a first step in efforts to remove him to the United States, where he claims to have been secretly indicted over his disclosure of 250,000 State Department cables. He has spent the better part of two years fighting the move through the British courts.last_img read more

Court French mayors must conduct gay marriages

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories The law allowing gay marriage exposed deep divisions in French society, prompting big protests for and against such unions.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Men’s health affects baby’s health too Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories PARIS (AP) – France’s constitutional court has ruled that mayors cannot refuse to carry out same-sex marriages just because they oppose them.Friday’s ruling comes a month after seven mayors contested France’s new law allowing for gay marriage. The mayors say it should have allowed municipal authorities to opt out on the grounds of freedom of conscience.In France, marriages can only be made official by city authorities, though many couples celebrate religious weddings, too. While the French Constitution allows for expressions of freedom of conscience, the court rejected the mayors’ arguments and ruled that the disputed part of the legislation was constitutional. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   last_img read more

Pakistan mourns ambassadors others killed in chopper crash

first_imgISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani army helicopter crashed Friday on its way to an inauguration at a resort in the country’s north, killing four foreigners — ambassadors to Islamabad from the Philippines and Norway, as well as the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia — and a three-member crew in what was one of the worst such incident in the country involving a high number of foreign dignitaries. Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories Sponsored Stories The air force said a technical failure had caused the crash but did not elaborate on the nature of the glitch. Air force spokesman Syed Muhammad Ali said the fire, which engulfed the aircraft shortly after the crash, caused the high number of fatalities.Pakistani army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, tweeted that the MI-17 helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing. He said the surviving passengers, including the Dutch and Polish ambassadors to Pakistan, received “varying degree of injuries.”The helicopter with the diplomats was on route to Naltar, where Sharif was also to attend a public ceremony to inaugurate a newly installed chair-lift at a ski resort.A statement from his office said Sharif was flying on a special government plane to Naltar when the “tragic news” was conveyed to him. It said Sharif returned to Islamabad after hearing of the crash.Earlier, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the heads of diplomatic missions from more than 30 countries, along with their family members and some Pakistani dignitaries, had been flown to the city of Gilgit by a C-130 aircraft.“From there, they were being taken to Naltar in four helicopters for a three-day excursion trip,” the ministry said. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The air force said a technical failure caused the crash while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was flying to the same event on a separate aircraft, declared Saturday a day of national mourning. Twelve passengers, many of them diplomats, who were injured in the crash were being treated at a local hospital, officials said.Hussain Khan, a police officer at the crash site Naltar, said he saw the helicopter stall in midair, then come down in an erratic manner as if the pilot had no control over it — then plunge to the ground.“The helicopter was preparing to land at a helipad near a school, when it suddenly …. crashed and caught fire,” Khan told The Associated Press over the phone from Naltar.Security forces scrambled to rescue survivors and transport the dead and injured to a nearby hospital, Khan added.Hours after the crash, the Pakistani Talban issued a statement claiming they had shot down the helicopter with an anti-aircraft missile. The claim, though impossible to independently verify, appeared to be an opportunistic attempt to take responsibility for such a high-profile incident.Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry dismissed the claim as “bogus.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said it was “deeply saddened” by the death of Ambassador Domingo Lucenario Jr., and that his colleagues in Manila observed a two-minute period of silence in commemoration. Lucenario, 54, also served as non-resident ambassador to Afghanistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. He is survived by his wife and three children.Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende confirmed the death of Ambassador Leif H. Larsen, describing him in a statement as, “a well-liked and highly respected colleague. His friends and colleagues in the Foreign Ministry and across our foreign stations are today in sorrow.” Larsen, 61, is survived by a wife and a son.Malaysia’s foreign ministry confirmed that the wife of its high commissioner to Pakistan perished in the crash. The high commissioner Hasrul Sani Mujtabar survived the incident and currently being treated at the Gilgit hospital, it said.Romania’s ambassador to Pakistan, Emilian Ion, was on the same helicopter and survived, the Romanian Foreign Ministry said. Pope Thrower, assistant spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, said that “no American Embassy personnel participated in this trip.”center_img Hours after the crash, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi confirmed in Jakarta that Heri Listyawati, the wife of Indonesia’s ambassador, was killed while her husband, Burhan Muhammad, survived with injuries.In Poland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the Polish Ambassador Andrzej Ananicz and his wife, Zofia, were on board the helicopter and that “both suffered injuries, which were not life threatening.”The prime minister’s statement expressed “deep grief and sorrow over the tragic incident” and said he “extended heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives in this incident.”Sharif declared Saturday a national day of mourning, according to his office, which also said that helicopters were evacuating the injured diplomats and that the bodies of those killed will be transported to Islamabad.“We are making arrangements to send the bodies of the diplomats to their countries with full honor,” Chaudhry told state-run Pakistan Television.Later, Chaudhry told reporters in Islamabad that taking the diplomats to Naltar was meant to promote tourism in the scenic region. He ruled out the possibility of sabotage. He added that the bodies of those killed could not immediately be brought to Islamabad due to bad weather. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Check your body, save your life Pakistani security forces have been fighting militants in the country’s northwestern tribal regions bordering Afghanistan for the past several years. Pakistan launched a massive operation in the North Waziristan tribal region last year. Since then, the army says it has killed more than 1,200 militants there.The crash area in Naltar is several hundred kilometers (miles) from North Waziristan.Although aircraft and helicopter crashes are not uncommon in Pakistan, Friday’s incident was the worst since 2010, when a Pakistani air plane crashed near Islamabad, killing 146 passengers. Another Pakistani passenger plane crashed near Islamabad in 2012, killing 121 passengers and six crew members.____Associated Press writers Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan; Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania; Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines; Karl Ritter in Stockholm; Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Puerto Rico closes dozens of schools as economic woes deepen

first_img SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Francisco Oller Elementary School once bustled with kids, but now birds nest in classrooms strewn with leaves and glass from shattered fluorescent lights. Long-discarded homework assignments paper the ground. Graffiti covers the walls.Located in a city just outside San Juan, the school is among more than 150 shuttered in the last five years as a worsening economic crisis has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to move to the U.S. mainland over the past decade. In the meantime, the government is putting some of the closed schools up for sale on a real estate website. The listing for the Francisco Oller school says it would be a good location for commercial businesses, medical offices or even a new school.City officials say the asking price is $1.8 million.So far, there are no takers.___Danica Coto on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Among the tens of thousands of people who left last year was 27-year-old Devis Gonzalez, who moved his family to Orlando, Florida, after finding a job as a truck driver.“The reason was plain and simple: work,” he said. “Like everyone else, we were looking for a better quality of life.”His young son attended a school in a rural area of Puerto Rico’s central mountain range that teachers say is among dozens expected to close permanently this summer, raising concerns that some children might have to travel a half-hour by bus to the nearest school.Nina Craig, a biologist from Ontario, Canada, who lives in the north coastal municipality of Arecibo and whose son attends school there, said the countryside is being stripped of services.“I think it’s inappropriate to be closing schools in the country just because they have a smaller population,” said Craig, who owns a farm in Arecibo, her husband’s hometown. “We can’t just all of us move to the city or all of us be commuting to the city.”The closures have also hit urban areas. The Francisco Oller school, named after a Puerto Rican impressionist painter, closed in 2010, reopened its doors for part of 2012 to receive children from another school that was being remodeled, then was abandoned for good. People in an adjacent working-class neighborhood complain that the empty school has been vandalized and is now being used as a shelter by drug addicts, a scene repeated around the island. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Many criticize the government’s handling of the closures, including Sen. Mari Tere Gonzalez, president of the Senate’s education commission.She said officials did not take transportation logistics and special education needs into account. The Boston Consulting Group noted that 30 percent of Puerto Rico students receive specialized education, twice the average in the U.S. mainland.“We have to condemn the way in which it was done,” Gonzalez said. “Our duty is to make sure that the rights of students aren’t being affected when it comes to services.”Education Secretary Rafael Roman did not respond to requests for an interview. He has said the exodus of nearly 45,000 Puerto Ricans a year and the island’s low birth rate will keep driving down enrollment. The island has seen its population dwindle to 3.5 million people, with nearly 411,000 students attending public schools. Roman’s department has not said which schools it will close next, angering parents and school officials who note that enrollment for the upcoming school year ended in March.“All of us parents are in limbo,” said Rafael Feliciano, a former teachers union president who now leads a group fighting the closures. “They are taking these measures behind our backs … It’s a disgrace.” 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Driven by a combination of budget cuts and declining enrollment, the loss of so many schools is having a profound impact on communities in the U.S. island territory, forcing many children to commute to new campuses and creating a blight in places already hard-hit by recession.The government says the situation could get much worse. It warned just days ago that by early 2016 it may run out of money to pay its bills, and over the next five years it may have to close nearly 600of the 1,460 public schools that once existed to save $249 million a year. Currently, there are 1,387 schools across the island.The trend “speaks volumes about how we’re losing population, about how we’re not being efficient in building the island’s future, about how we’re losing opportunities to create citizens,” said San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “I’m extremely concerned this will increase the hopelessness and mistrust that the island has in itself and lead people to think that the only option to succeed and support their families is to leave the island.”Puerto Rico has seen school enrollment drop 42 percent in the past three decades, and an additional 22 percent drop is expected over the next five years, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, which signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the government to help restructure the island’s education system. Much of the drop is the result of parents moving to the mainland U.S. in search of better opportunities, including many teachers being recruited from the island for their bilingual skills. Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Patients with chronic pain give advice This May 7, 2015 photo shows a hallway in closed Francisco Oller Elementary School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The school located just outside the capital is among nearly 100 that have been shuttered as the island struggles through a worsening economic crisis that has prompted many to move to the U.S. mainland over the past decade. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)last_img read more

Dutch prime minister thanks American liberators

first_img Sponsored Stories “We must be vigilant if we are going to preserve democracy and freedom,” Breedlove said. “It is important that we celebrate the courage of the youth of yesterday but we must also support the youth of today as our service members continue to defend the values forever enshrined here.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement ErrorOKFree Rate QuoteCall now 623-889-0130 ErrorOK 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The cemetery is on land close to the Dutch border with Germany that was liberated from Nazi occupation on Sept. 13, 1944, by the U.S. 30th Infantry Division.“We say thank you to our liberators,” Rutte said. “Thank you for enabling us to stand here today in freedom, and we bow our heads in memory of the fallen.”Among the thousands of people attending the solemn ceremony were orphans of soldiers who were buried or are listed as missing at Margraten.Arthur Chotin, whose father was killed in a jeep accident in the aftermath of the war and is buried at Margraten, thanked Dutch families who have adopted all of the graves at the cemetery, helping to keep alive the memory of the dead.“Even though I didn’t know him, I think of him almost every day. What he missed and what my mother and I missed,” Chotin said. “So here I am. 70 years old, more than twice the age of the father I never played catch with, never argued with, never even hugged. And the single thought in my mind today is that I hope he would be proud of me.“Oh, the power these dead have over those they left behind.”NATO’s supreme commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, reminded the crowd that the freedom Allied soldiers died defending in World War II cannot be taken for granted. “Recent world events have shown us the concept of armed conflict in Europe remains possible,” he said.center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories MARGRATEN, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid tribute Sunday at a Memorial Day ceremony to U.S. troops who fought and died liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in World War II, while NATO’s supreme commander said the fight to defend freedom continues to this day.Thousands of people sat under blue skies and wispy white clouds for Sunday’s ceremony at the American cemetery in Margraten, a manicured patch of 65.5 acres (26.5 hectares) in the rolling hills of the southern province of Limburg that contains 8,301 headstones. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

UK police probe whether 2 men stowed away beneath plane

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy While there is no evidence to link the two cases, police say they are looking into whether there is a connection to the body found an hour later in the west London community of Richmond, which is below the flight path.British Airways said it is working with police in London and Johannesburg to establish the facts in this “rare case.”Experts believe roughly three-quarters of stowaways do not survive if they hide on a plane’s undercarriage because of the extreme cold and lack of oxygen they experience as the plane reaches cruising altitude. Though not common, stowaways have in the past plunged to the streets of west London as the planes lowered their landing gear.In September 2012, a 30-year old from Mozambique, Jose Matada, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola on to a street in Mortlake, which is not far from where the body was found Thursday.An inquest into his death suggested he had survived freezing temperatures of up to minus 60 Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit for most of the 12-hour flight, but he was believed to be dead or nearly dead by the time he hit the ground.Aviation expert Chris Yates described the latest situation as unusual because of enhanced security measures at airports meant to deter terror and other attacks. However, he noted that the stowaways who survive have tended to be young people. The vital role family plays in society Comments   Share   Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to pain The Rev. Neil Summers, from the St John the Divine of Richmond church across the way from where the body was found, said he would lead prayers for the dead man.“In one sense it’s not totally surprising as it’s happened before,” he said. “It’s very shocking when it’s so close to you. We are going to say prayers for the people concerned tonight.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. LONDON (AP) — A man is in critical condition in a London hospital after he was found stowed away in the undercarriage of a plane that had just completed a 10-hour flight, and police are investigating whether a man found dead on a west London rooftop had fallen from the same plane.Authorities at Heathrow Airport found the man in the undercarriage of a British Airways plane after it landed Thursday morning on a flight from Johannesburg. Police say they believe they know his identity and that he is 24 but they are awaiting confirmation before they release any details. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Spain Police arrest woman for recruiting young girls for IS

first_imgThe ministry said the woman in Arrecife maintained contact with Islamic State militants in Syria, including a facilitator who gave her orders for recruiting girls and arranging their travel to Syria.Girls and teens who she helped get to Syria ended up being sexually exploited, did domestic work and work in hospitals and had roles policing women, the statement said. A few joined the Islamic State as combatants, the statement said.Authorities did not specify how many people the woman was suspected of recruiting but said police have been investigating her since 2014 in a probe overseen by the National Court in Madrid.Spain has arrested dozens of suspected jihadi militants and recruiters in recent years.On Monday, the ministry said police arrested two men in Madrid for alleged collaboration with Kurdish groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.The two are suspected of having been trained to use arms and explosives and fight guerrilla warfare. The ministry said their actions affected Spain’s national interests.The ministry said it hoped to dissuade other militants from enlisting and possibly falling into the hands of the Islamic State group, which could use them for propaganda.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. MADRID (AP) — Spanish police on Tuesday arrested a woman suspected of recruiting pre-teen girls and teenagers to send to areas controlled by the Islamic State armed group in Syria.An Interior Ministry statement said the woman, a Spaniard, was arrested in the city of Arrecife on the Canary Island of Lanzarote.Separately, the ministry said Civil Guard police arrested an Algerian-born man wanted on terrorism charges by Belgium, where he previously resided. The man, whose name was not released, is a suspected member of the Islamic State group and had fought in Syria. He was arrested in Barcelona airport while waiting for a connecting flight, after flying from Algeria. Top Stories Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in society Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Qantas denies hiding information from engineers

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L The dispute between Qantas and its engineers continued this week as the carrier was accused of hiding details of technical incidents with senior engineering staff.APESMA, the union representing Qantas engineers, claims engineers have been left in the dark regarding recent incidents including a recent Qantas flight which arrived in Brisbane 17 hours late after two of the airline’s jumbo jets reported technical problems.The union’s senior industrial officer Alison Rose said engineers needed to have access to all the information and documentation on each aircraft that they do any work on.”So our members are concerned that due to this practice of not providing information, they are effectively working in the dark” she told ABC News.The union, which is currently in a pay dispute with Qantas, is now calling for a full investigation by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority into the incidents.However, Qantas spokesman David Epstein has rejected the claims, saying it’s another opportunistic attempt by the union to use scare tactics around safety to advance its industrial agenda.“APESMA’s industrial campaign commenced on 13 November 2009, and we have had enhanced engineering documentation and oversight procedures in place since that day” said Epstein.“Highly qualified and experienced engineering managers are certifying work which is then subject to detailed peer review, including by engineers taking part in the industrial action.“We are absolutely confident we are meeting all of our regulatory obligations and that suitable communication and work flow arrangements are in place.” <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Food for thought

first_imgSource = Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island wins the Restaurant and Dining Award at the 2010 Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards, awarded on the 25th February 2011.This was the 14th annual AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards. The chief guest at this prestigious event was The Fijian Prime Minister along with 350 guests from all walks of the tourism sector.  On the evening, 13 premium awards were presented in as many categories.Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island won the Restaurant & Dining award for CROSS restaurant in recognition of an establishment that delivers impeccable service, exceptional food and great atmosphere. CROSS restaurant is regarded as the premiere dining choice on Denarau by locals, resort guests and visiting dignitaries.Radisson Resort Fiji opened its doors in 2007 with 270 spacious guest Rooms and 1 bedroom suites providing a unique blend of accommodation options on Denarau Island. Over the last few years, Radisson Resort Fiji invested heavily in its Food and Beverage operations to cater to the changing needs of its customers as well as understanding the challenges of Food and Beverage quality, variety and value on Denarau. CROSS restaurant underwent a complete refurbishment in 2010 with upgraded air conditioned area, new entrance, furniture and an extensive hand selected wine cellar to boost.  All this combined with attentive service and outstanding cuisine in an appealing beachfront location. The new look CROSS restaurant also includes a private dining area to cater to small groups. Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island now has a perfect combination of dining options with Neptune on the beach for casual meals, Water Court Asian restaurant overlooking Denarau’s only water fall feature, Blu restaurant with Churassco Fijian style cuisine and Lomani Wai which means “dining in the water” in Fijian.Acknowledging the high level of service delivery and broader success, Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island was nominated in two categories: Restaurant & Dining and Accommodation DeluxeGreg Maloney, General Manager of Radisson Resort Fiji said, “It is an honor and privilege to be recognized for this specific award. Over the years, the challenges in food and beverage have always been a point of contention for visitors to Fiji and we had to step up to the plate so to speak, to ensure we did all we could to change this. The menu we provide is varied and features local produce in a diverse culinary style. A specialty of the restaurant is Kava Ice-cream which is quiet unique.  In addition, there is a wide selection of wines not readily found in other locations around Fiji enhancing the overall dining experience. This is also a strong acknowledgment for the team at CROSS who have worked hard to build and deliver an exceptional product”last_img read more

Emirates sees more brand growth

first_imgEmirates has reached the top 200 of the world’s biggest brands for the first time, according to the 2015 Brand Finance Global 500 report released this week.For the fourth consecutive year, Emirates has steadily climbed the table of the Top 500 most valuable brands in the world and now sits at number 196.Increasing its overall position of 38 spots in just 12 months, the airline attributes its success to a strong commitment to product and service excellence, as well as investments in its brand.Emirates’ estimated brand value has grown more than 21 per cent from USD$5.48 billion to USD$6.6 billion.The airline also retains its long standing position as the most valuable brand in the Middle East, and the most valuable airline brand.Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark, said that Emirates is a global company serving a global audience, and is constantly growing its brand.“Our brand strategy does not only involve marketing and sponsorships, but everything we do including product innovation and service delivery.  For us, our customers are the ultimate judges and jury.  Being named the most valuable airline brand in the world is great recognition for each and every one of our staff,” Sir Tim Clark said.In 2014, Emirates marked a record launch of 10 new A380 routes, bringing the network to over 145 passenger and cargo destinations, from Burkina Faso to Buenos Aires, and spanning six continents.In 2015 the airline operates, on average, 3,500 flights per week increasing the number of city-pair combinations that the airline offers to its leisure, business and cargo customers across its global network.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Coin ceremony for MSC Seaview marks new milestone in growing fleet

first_imgMSC SeaviewCoin ceremony for MSC Seaview marks new milestone in growing fleetMSC Cruises (the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line) and FINCANTIERI (heir to one of the largest shipbuilding groups in the world) marked a key milestone in the building of MSC Seaview on Thursday 2nd February 2017.A celebration was held for the maritime traditional coin ceremony, held at FINCANTIERI’s Monfalcone shipyard in Italy. MSC Seaview is the third next-generation mega cruise ship that will come into service under MSC Cruises’ ten-year investment plan through 2026.Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman commented: “MSC Seaview is one of the four MSC Cruises’ ships currently under construction. It is part of an industry-unprecedented ten-year €9 billion investment plan. This plan underpins the next phase of our global growth. She will reflect our ongoing commitment in bringing to market the most innovatively conceived cruise ships. The Seaside generation of MSC Cruises ships – of which MSC Seaview is part – introduces yet another game-changing prototype.”Giuseppe Bono, CEO of FINCANTIERI, said: “We always celebrate every stage of this project with satisfaction. The MSC Seaview order (just like the one for its sister ship MSC Seaside, which was floated out in November 2016) allowed the crucial re-launch of the cruise market.” He concluded, “We are confident that this success bodes well for our partnership with our MSC friends”.MSC Seaview will be the highlight of MSC Cruises’ next year’s ship deployment activities as she will come into service in June 2018, sailing the Western Mediterranean in her inaugural summer season. She will then continue her deployment in Brazil as of November 2018.Mr Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer added: “MSC Seaview will bring guests and the sea closer to each other. We will pioneer a beach condo concept, along with other unique design and product elements that allow to make the most of the warmer weather.”Guests will enjoy one of the highest ratios of outdoor spaces at sea – with an increased number of balcony cabins, sea views and outdoor public areas. Every element of the ship is designed to enable guests’ enjoyment of the outdoors – from cabins and suites with outdoor spaces, eating and drinking al fresco through to outdoor fitness facilities and luxury cabanas for spa treatments in the fresh air.At 323 metres long with a GRT of 154,000 tonnes, MSC Seaview will be the second of two sister ships in the MSC Cruises’ Seaside generation to be built by FINCANTIERI. Her sister ship, MSC Seaside, is set to enter service in December 2017. She is scheduled to be christened in Miami, where she will homeport.ContactMarketing Department, MSC Cruises (Australia & New Zealand) Pty, 1300 028 502,, @MSCCruisesAUS About MSC CruisesMSC Cruises is part of the Swiss-based MSC Group, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, sailing year-round in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Seasonal itineraries cover northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, Cuba and the French Antilles, South America, southern Africa, China and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman. In 2014, MSC Cruises launched an investment plan to support the second phase of its growth through the order of two ships of the Meraviglia generation and two others of the Seaside generation (plus an option for a third) and in February 2016, confirmed the existing options to build a further two now Meraviglia Plus ships with an even greater capacity. In April 2016 this rose to €9 billion with the announcement of signing of the letter of intent to build a further four ships, each with next-generation LNG propulsion technology. Consequently, between 2017 and 2026 a total of up to 11 new, next-generation MSC Cruises ships will come into service. MSC Cruises is the first global cruise line brand to develop an investment plan of this length and magnitude, spanning a horizon of over ten years, from 2014 through 2026. MSC Cruises feels a deep responsibility for the environments in which it operates, and was the first company ever to earn the Bureau Veritas “7 Golden Pearls” for superior management and environmental stewardship. In 2009, MSC Cruises began an enduring partnership with UNICEF to support various programmes assisting children worldwide. So far, more than €5m has been collected in voluntary guest donations.Source = MSC Cruiseslast_img read more

Travel of the future

first_imgBiometric self-boarding gates – Domestic stands at T5Travel of the future?British Airways is the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the USMore than a quarter of a million British Airways customers have now successfully used their face as their identity on flights from the USMore than 3m customers have used the tech on UK domestic flights – international flights from the UK are on the wayMore than 250,000 British Airways customers have experienced a glimpse of the journey of the future by using their face as their identity to board a flight from the US in the last 18 months.The introduction of new biometric facial recognition technology has transformed the airport experience for customers travelling from Orlando, Los Angeles and New York, JFK by streamlining the boarding process and halving the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft.The technology means that customers no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the departure gate – only when they check in and go through Security. Instead travellers simply look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified and then walk onto the aircraft.The commitment to this technology is part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers. British Airways was the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US, working in close partnership with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to implement the technology, which has enabled the airline to hugely speed up its boarding process.At Orlando, British Airways is boarding almost 240 customers in 10 minutes – becoming the first carrier to set up permanent facial recognition gates at the airport.HeathrowBritish Airways was also the first UK airline to use the technology on domestic (UK) flights. More than three million customers have boarded an aircraft this way – with all domestic departures from the airline’s home hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 now boarded biometrically.For international flights, self-service boarding gates have now been installed at the terminal, allowing customers to scan their own boarding cards to gain access to their flight. It’s the first step towards biometric boarding on international flights from the UK.Investment in technologyRaoul Cooper, British Airways’ Senior Digital Design Manager, said:“We are continuing to pioneer the use of technology and automation to enhance the airport experience and ensure that our customers’ flights depart on time.“The airport of the future will be built upon biometric technology, from check-in and baggage drops to security checks and boarding. These days, automation is a part of everyday life, as is biometric technology via our mobile phones. We’re working with our technology partners and the US government to explore how we can use this technology in new and innovative ways to give our customers the stress-free, easy airport experience they tell us they want, while ensuring security is always our top priority.”Source = British Airwayslast_img read more

LPS Names New VP of Investor Relations

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology A new head of investor relations has been announced at “”Lender Processing Services””, with the appointment of Nancy Murphy to the leadership role. Formerly the director of investment relations for fashion retailer “”Stein Mart Inc.””, Murphy is returning to the financial industry, where she spent most of her career prior to joining the clothing company.[IMAGE]Murphy will replace Parag Bhansali as the vice president of investor relations for LPS. Previously, Murphy served in an [COLUMN_BREAK]investor-related position for Providian Financial Corp., which was absorbed by “”Washington Mutual, Inc.””: prior to its integration with “”JPMorgan Chase & Co.””, and she has also been a part of “”Westpac Banking Corp.””, and “”The Bank of New York Mellon Corp”” on Murphy’s addition to LPS, the entity’s chief financial officer, Tom Schilling, said, “”We’re fortunate to have a finance professional of Nancy’s caliber to lead LPS’ investor relations efforts. She will be a strong addition to the LPS executive team and is eager to provide outstanding support to the investment community.””Jacksonville, Florida-based LPS is a provider of technology and analytics for the mortgage industry, and Murphy’s experience in the corporate banking sector will be an asset to the company’s growth strategies. Currently, LPS estimates that nearly 50 percent of the dollar volume of all mortgage loans in the U.S. are conducted through the company’s loan servicing platform, and LPS’ focus on proprietary mortgage and real estate data and analytics within the mortgage and capital markets industries is an ideal fit for Murphy. Attorneys & Title Companies Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers 2011-11-07 Abby Gregory LPS Names New VP of Investor Relationscenter_img Share November 7, 2011 467 Views last_img read more

White Paper Examines Mortgage Industrys Talent Crisis

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing White Paper Examines Mortgage Industry’s ‘Talent Crisis’ Share “”Caldwell Partners””: released a new white paper addressing what it believes is a crucial issue at a transitional time in the mortgage industry: the lack of knowledgeable leaders able to manage their business’ new needs.[IMAGE]””The mortgage banking industry stands at a turning point in terms of talent, and companies that don’t recognize the world has changed will likely be left behind,”” said Carol Hartman, a partner in the Financial Services Practice at Caldwell and co-author of the white paper, named “”Developing a new generation of mortgage banking leaders.””Hartman was joined in authoring the paper by Glen Korso of “”National Mortgage Insurance””: In the paper, the two authors argue that the upcoming talent crisis stems from a more competitive financial services environment.””Banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, law firms and accounting firms are all scrambling to find senior-level executives who can operate in a more regulated environment. In short, the mortgage banking industry is in danger of losing the recruiting battle, based on recent [COLUMN_BREAK]experience in securing top-level talent for mortgage banks,”” the paper reads.The issue’s urgency is compounded “”because the founders of successful firms are in unfamiliar terrain and are uncertain about hiring executives who are generally more risk averse.””One step to combating the problem, the authors say, is to increase compensation to compete with hedge funds, accounting firms, and other businesses. They also suggest aligning compensation to avoid functional conflicts of interest–for example, executives should be rewarded for reducing loan losses rather than increasing origination (which could conflict with the responsibilities of risk officers).As of this moment, the paper notes five positions critical for any company: general counsels, CFOs, CROs, CCOs, and CIOs. Many firms may need to look outside the industry to fill those positions.””[T]he industry has not been in a position to groom the next generation of leaders for a long time,”” the authors write. “”The shortage of existing leaders with the backgrounds and insights described will require the mortgage banking industry to seek executives from a broader population within financial services including banks, broker-dealers, regulators and institutional investors.However companies fill those positions, they will need to do it quickly.””Mortgage banking stands at a turning point. Institutions that recognize the industry’s new dynamics can transform this challenge into an opportunity,”” the paper concludes.center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Compliance Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Processing Regulation Service Providers 2013-03-13 Tory Barringer March 13, 2013 414 Views last_img read more

Fannie Mae Multifamily Issuance Starts Strong in 2013

first_imgFannie Mae Multifamily Issuance Starts Strong in 2013 Share April 12, 2013 441 Views in Secondary Marketcenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Commercial Real Estate Fannie Mae Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage-Backed Securities Service Providers 2013-04-12 Tory Barringer “”Fannie Mae””: issued approximately $8.2 billion of multifamily mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in Q1 2013, according to a company release.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]The GSE also resecuritized $3.2 billion of Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS) MBS through its Fannie Mae Guaranteed Multifamily Structures (Fannie Mae GeMS) program in the first quarter. The DUS MBS securities provide market participants with predictable cash flows and call protection in defined maturities of five, seven, and 10 years.””The momentum in the Agency CMBS [commercial mortgage-backed securities] market carried over year-end and into 2013, and DUS issuance continued to be robust in the first quarter,”” said Kimberly Johnson, SVP of Multifamily Capital Markets at Fannie Mae. “”Resecuritization activity has remained stable in the first quarter despite interest rate volatility, and we are on pace to exceed $10 billion in GeMS issuance this year.””Fannie Mae also announced its Capital Markets business sold approximately $3.7 billion of multifamily mortgage securities from its portfolio in Q1 2013.last_img read more

Collateral Analytics Appoints SVP for Research and Development

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers 2013-10-18 Carrie Bay “”Collateral Analytics””:, appointed James R. Follain, Ph.D. as its SVP of research and development.Dr. Follain is an economist with over 35 years’ experience in the analysis of housing and mortgage markets, much of which involved the measurement and management of the risks associated with lending and investing as well as public policies.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]””Dr. Follain is a world-renowned housing economist who has authored many important academic papers and publications and we are privileged to have him on our team,”” noted Michael Sklarz, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Collateral Analytics. “”His comprehensive knowledge and research in housing and mortgage markets will deepen our credibility and strengthen our ability to meet the needs of clients.””Dr. Follain is a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and a member of the extended faculty at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He has held a number of positions as an economist within major academic institutions and with various business, government, and policy-oriented organizations. He held senior-level positions with Freddie Mac from 1998 to 2003 and the Federal Reserve Board from 2003 to 2004. Prior to his time at Freddie Mac, Dr. Follain spent 14 years as a professor, teaching economics at Syracuse University and finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1988, he served as president of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association. October 18, 2013 464 Views center_img New,Collateral Analytics Appoints SVP for Research and Development Sharelast_img read more

Consumer Attitudes Improve on Housing Weaken on Economy

first_imgConsumer Attitudes Improve on Housing, Weaken on Economy Share in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News Confidence Credit Availability Fannie Mae Home Prices 2014-03-10 Tory Barringercenter_img March 10, 2014 476 Views After starting the year on a low note, consumer attitudes toward housing brightened overall in February, according to Fannie Mae.Asked about home price trends over the next year, 50 percent of respondents in Fannie Mae’s February National Housing Survey said they expect improvements, a recovery from a slide to 43 percent in January. A slightly larger number of consumers anticipate price declines—7 percent, up from 6 percent—while the share of those forecasting no significant movement was down to 38 percent.Having dropped 1.2 percentage points to start the year, the average home price change expectation rebounded just as sharply to 3.2 percent, matching the December survey.That renewed confidence in home prices spurred a boost in those saying now is a good time to buy a home; that number was up 3 percentage points from January to 68 percent. At the same time, though, the share of respondents saying they think it would be easy for them to get a mortgage right now retreated from January’s all-time high of 52 percent, falling back to 45 percent.Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said the up-and-down nature of the last few surveys fits with the “noisy economic and housing data published over the past few months.”“[W]e’ve seen a corresponding increase in volatility in our survey results, particularly for home price expectations and perceptions about the ease of getting a mortgage,” Duncan said. “Despite the volatile month-to-month changes, we believe that the housing recovery is continuing, but is not yet robust.”Gauging consumer attitudes about the economy, Fannie Mae found Americans were considerably more downbeat than they have been recently. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they believe the economy is on the right track—down 4 percentage points—while 57 percent say it’s on the wrong track, a small bounce after four straight months of declines.Twenty-four percent of consumers said their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, an increase of 2 percentage points. Meanwhile, 36 percent said their expenses have grown substantially, an increase of 4 percentage points.Noting a 6 percentage point jump over the last two months in the share of consumers citing higher household expenses, Duncan speculated that weather may have played a large role in any declines in economic optimism.“This response would be consistent with higher home heating costs,” he explained.Nevertheless, at least a few consumers seem to think these higher costs will stick: The number of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year fell slightly to 43 percent, while those expecting things to get worse ticked up to 15 percent.last_img read more

Luxury Home Sales Maintain Growth in Q3

first_imgLuxury Home Sales Maintain Growth in Q3 in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Home Sales Investment Investors Redfin 2014-12-05 Tory Barringer December 5, 2014 430 Views center_img Even as total home sales fell year-over-year for another quarter, the luxury market continued to outperform in Q3, according to Redfin.Nationwide, home sales fell 1.2 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, the brokerage said this week. Sales have been down year-over-year for every quarter so far in 2014.At the same time, sales of homes priced at at least $1 million continued to lift, rising 9 percent over the past year.”That’s no surprise, given that the luxury housing market was the first to recover after the crisis and has been going strong ever since, benefitting from a booming stock market, low interest rates and overseas investment,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin.Nevertheless, growth in the luxury market remains below the double-digit numbers recorded all throughout last year and earlier this year as foreign investment in the U.S. housing market wanes.As a result of declining international demand, many of the nation’s top luxury markets are now seeing a dramatic decline in sales of million-dollar-plus homes—and while that segment only accounts for about 3 percent of the national housing market, it means a lot for those areas.”This sector of the market, particularly in the places that have typically had strong foreign interest, will need traditional (and well-heeled) buyers to offset disappearing demand from international investors,” Richardson said.Not surprisingly, California’s more active housing metros topped the list for million-dollar home sales in Q3, led by San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose—the latter of which saw a 43.7 percent jump in luxury sales over the last year. San Diego and Newport Beach also made it into the top 10, ranked at Nos. 5 and 10, respectively.On the other hand, a few of the nation’s more affordable markets also happened to be among the top areas for luxury sales, including Chicago and Houston.”The luxury home market in Houston is thriving in large part because of the strong and diverse job market,” said Tara Waggoner, a Redfin agent. “Energy and technology companies like Exxon Mobil are hiring employees away from the coasts. Those people are shocked at how much home they can get for $1 million in Houston.” Sharelast_img read more

Ginnie Mae to Reform Document Custody Policies and Management

first_imgGinnie Mae to Reform Document Custody Policies and Management Today, Ginnie Mae announced its plans to thoroughly update program requirements and infrastructure in relation to loan documents that serve as collateral for securitized pools of loans.Together, Drayne said Ginnie Mae intend to engage issuers, document custodians and other stakeholders in a dialogue about how to most effectively update the program requirements and infrastructure relating to pool collateral.“We plan to take a thoughtful approach and expect that this will be a multi-year effort,” said Drayne.Ginnie Mae’s SVP of Issuer and Portfolio Management, Michael Drayne noted that the government corporation will use four “guiding principles” as it undertakes a comprehensive review and reform of the policies and procedures relating to the management of pool collateral via third party document custodians.The government organization realized the need for reform after the finiancial crisis and the unprecedented level of Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSR) transfer requests in recent years, Drayne added.“Every one of the nine million loans in Ginnie Mae pools is secured by a collateral loan file,” said Drayne. “As our business has grown, and the ownership of so many of the underlying MSRs has changed hands since the financial crisis, it has become even more critical to ensure that our program for managing this documentation evolves to meet changing circumstances and take advantage of technological progress.”Ginnie Mae’s “Guiding Principles:”1) Policy: Current policies will be re-examined to consider whether they adequately reflect and mitigate actual risks and the current and foreseeable state of available technology.2) Integration: Document custody functions and information should be more closely integrated into Ginnie Mae’s systems.3) Loan Level: Information about the status of pool collateral should be managed at the loan level, not merely the pool level.4) Enforcement: The methods by which Ginnie Mae enforces compliance with its policies will be re-examined and harmonized with its broader practices for managing issuer relations. in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News June 18, 2015 563 Views center_img Document Custody Policies Document Management Ginnie Mae Mortgage Servicing Rights 2015-06-18 Staff Writer Sharelast_img read more